As a child I remember a few churches that I attended. At age seven my parents decided that we were going to be Catholic (my father is Catholic). It was at that point that I was baptized and we began attending that church. When we moved we found the closes Catholic church and that was our home church.
Nothing to think about.
Nothing to debate.
It wasn't like we hung out with people at church. We went there to worship, sat on the same row every Sunday. We said our Peace Be With You's and went home 45 minutes later.
My husband and I were married two weeks after I turned 20. About the time I started dating him (19) I stopped attending church with my parents. My husband was raised in a Christian home, after the age of about 12. We were young, immature, and looking for a good party, not a good church.
I'm not saying that's good - but it's WHO WE WERE.
Do you know where a good party is?????
Once our first was born my need for church increased greatly. I longed to be at church. Church was something that I did EVERY WEEK, even if I didn't really want to. It was at church that I could really hit my knees in prayer.
Everything was still.
He was there.
After some time we agreed to start checking out churches. Every other Sunday we would try a different church. Since his family was raised Church of Christ I agreed to go on a search with him for that. A Christian church. We only went to three different churches but decided that we would make Fairfax Church of Christ our church.
We didn't attend very often.
But it was our church.
We knew someone that went there.
Other than that, no real connection.
It was US, not them.
When we moved to Florida we began going to church with my husband's family. It was a nice church and we attended for a couple of years. We never completely became comfortable as my husband's past collided there - they knew who he was BEFORE he became a Christian. I did not understand what that meant at the time, but at this point in the game if he was willing to take us to church I would let him lead us.
After some serious turbulence we left that church.
Which was really good.
My husband had knee surgery and I feel like we took some time off from church. About two months later we were invited to go to church with my husband's grandma - so we did. When we arrived, listened to the sermon - it felt like we had come HOME. I will never forget the feeling I had and sharing it with my husband. It was at that point that we began attending church weekly.
And loving it.
We became part of a family.
A big DYSFUNCTIONAL family.
Seriously? We Christians are just as dysfunctional as the rest of the world, we are just trying to be followers of Christ and change who we are. Not an easy task to say the least.
Our church was there as we transitioned from two kids to three kids. They embraced us and our beautiful daughter - acknowledging that she was OURS as we hit the floor running. This church was there as my sister battled cancer and eventually lost that battle. They were there to pray for/with me. They were there to hug me.
That's my description.
After some thought and discussion about a year ago my husband and I decided that we were going to check out some other churches. Not because our current church had changed - they have not at all. They are still healing hearts, helping the community and being family. I would encourage anyone I know to go there. No, it's not for any bad reason that my husband and I chose to do this...
It was set upon our hearts.
And so we did.
The first church we went to we did NOT want to like it.
It was big.
It was different.
But we did.
We liked it.
So we decided to go again.
Just to make sure.
And here we are over a year ago.
A few months ago my daughter decided she wanted to be baptized - but baptized by her father at our old church where the family was. So we did, we headed back over there and were once again embraced by our family (the whole church) and my in-laws. It stirred in us that heart felt homecoming feeling and we began to split our time, like a divorced couple, between both churches.
We were going to make a transition time and head back to our former church in the end. Every week we were at one church or the other...
And it was exhausting.
I found myself trying to watch missing sermons online so that I could still be in the loop with the current series. I found my heart literally torn in two: family OR where you feel you are supposed to be?
It didn't make sense.
Shouldn't I want to be with my family?
My closest friends?
Everything about me and within me says YES.
I should be with them.
My heart said something different.
After more discussion between my husband and I we had to make a decision - we can't have both. We listened to our heart and have fully committed to our current church. It's where both of our hearts feel pushed. It has been hard for our kids. Just like our love of friends, teenagers have a harder time separating themselves from friends.
They have all been angry.
It has weighed very heavy on my heart.
What if we made the wrong decision?
Lord, we are listening, but what if we heard you wrong?
For the first time, in all this transitioning we had confirmation that we made the right choice yesterday. Out of the mouth of one of our children was an agreement that the choice was correct.
Thank you, God.
So to those of you that might go to my former church KNOW that it is not because we do not love you, it's not because we feel the preaching is bad (we love you Preacher Don!) or because an issue within the church. Quite contrary - you ARE our family! No, it's because we really feel we are being led by the Spirit in a different directly.
I never knew it would be so hard leaving a church.
Not from any previous experience in my life.
Have YOU ever had to do this?
Anything like this?
Monday, December 12, 2011
Do you remember as a child, looking at all the presents under the Christmas tree in expectation? Even now, each of us are drawn to a certain type of box. Maybe it's a small box that could contain jewelry or a key? OR sometimes it's the REALLY BIG BOX that catches our eye.
As we stare at the beautifully wrapped box with the perfect red bow our minds take us to all the I WANTS that we have rattled off over the past year.
Could it be those diamond earings?
Or the key necklace?
Oh I be I got the XBOX i wanted!
We do it. We ALL do it - even if we are not the type that really want much.
The image in my mind is of a little kid. He wrote his Santa list with his sights on some AMAZING things. He's dreamed about getting his hands on his carbine action, 200 shot range model Red Ryder air rifle! He has planned all the adventures he's going to have with that little baby.
Two weeks before Christmas a box appears.
The box is the PERFECT SIZE to fit his dream machine.
And he waits.
He's not allowed to TOUCH the box so every day it sits there to be seen, but not touched.
Day after Day.
Christmas Eve service at church.
As he comes down the stairs, greeted by his parents, he goes DIRECTLY to that present! Mom and dad knod in approval as the impending explosion of excitements tears into the box!
What does he see?
He sees a box.
Gives it a little shake.
It has the weight of the best gift he's ever had!
And so, while his parents look on with excitement and joy, camera's ready, their sweet little guy opens the gift. The lid goes up, they inch forward in anticipation, and the look on their son's face shifts from excitement to perplexment.
That's what's in this beautiful box?
The one that I have been STARRING AT for two weeks?
I got BABY JESUS for CHRISTMAS?!!!!
Talk about overwhelming disappointment.
With that the little boy tossed the box aside to search for a more valuble present.
We are ALL guilty of this. We discard the truth and reason we celebrate Christmas. I am not saying to not give Christmas presents, but at what moment did Christmas became a completely secular holiday?
My biggest prayer, as of late, is to show my children that I go to church every Sunday not because I HAVE TO but because I NEED TO. I go to church so that I can be renewed and refilled and encouraged, without all of the distractions of the world, including my family.
I feel like during Christmas there is this LIE that is overshadowing TRUTH. Yes, we celebrate Christmas. Trying to show and encourage my children to look at it DIFFERENTLY then we celebrate it is REALLY HARD.
How do you feel about Christmas?
How do you celebrate it with YOUR family?